Drivers predicted to lash out at 20mph slowdown zones

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Motoring organisations hit back at the spread of 20mph speed zones which they claim could make exasperated motorists drive badly.

The Independent disclosed today that millions more motorists will face lower speed limits with the spread of the slowdown zones that already operate in several major cities such as Liverpool, Bristol, York, Newcastle upon Tyne and parts of London.

Despite the popularity of low-speed zones in residential areas, which were backed by 62 per cent of people in a survey for this newspaper, motoring groups warned of a drivers’ backlash.

Keith Peat, spokesman for Alliance of British Drivers and former traffic policeman said: “20mph zones will be counterproductive and create more accidents. What you’ll get is drivers driving to the speedometer. It’s safer that drivers drive to what they’re seeing outside the car and not to what their speed needle is saying.”

Others have welcomed the spread of 20mph zones as a way of reducing the annual carnage on the roads. Labour’s shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle added: “Cutting the speed limit to 20mph in residential areas can save lives. Ministers must finally admit that they were wrong to propose a blanket increase in the motorway speed limit and properly support local authorities who want to extend 20mph areas, not simply pay lip service to road safety.”

Louise Ellman, who chairs the Commons Transport committee, defended the increasing imposition of 20mph limits, but emphasised that there need to be local consultation, particularly with the police, before new zones are created.

“This is about safety and responsible motoring. It will make our roads safer and more usable,” she said. “There is clearly widespread support for this, but it’s important that there be local consultation as to exactly where these zones are defined.”